It’s really a bit of a shame that this national park in the north of Sierra Leone is so under-funded. But at the same time, I think the fact that it’s underfunded is what makes it so special; it’s certainly what keeps it so pristine. Within the park, which sits on the Little Scarcies River, there are buffalo, pygmy hippos, elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys and a number of other mammals. The bird life too is phenomenal. Be warned, however that unless you’re here in the dry season you aren’t too likely to see any of the big mammals, although the monkeys are always around.
Information and Communication
The national park is separated two sections: Outamba and Kilimi. The Outamba section is the one set up for tourists, and there are always a couple guides and rangers around at what is known as the wilderness camp. There is no electricity out here although one can pick up cell coverage from the camp most of the time.
I was told I had to pack in all my food and water which is not entirely the case. Though I would recommend bringing in some things likes snacks or perhaps some bread and sardines, the staff will also make simple meals for you for about $2US. You can also buy bottles or bags of water at the camp, although you might have to ask for someone to go into town and get some. My suggestion is to bring in a bottle of water and some snacks and they should be able to accommodate you for the rest.
There are basic round huts set out all over the camp and the price is only about $3US a night. They are basic but come with mosquito nets and decent beds. I was told it’s also possible to set up a tent although I’d only do so if the rest of the rooms are taken up and it’s the dry season. There are too many animals running around.
The best time of year, I’m told, for excursions is December-February where you are almost guaranteed to see hippos while taking a canoe ride. I did a couple hikes through the forest and though we saw lots of tracks we struck out on seeing anything. I paid a park entry fee of $2US and then each hike cost another $1US. It really is cheap.
The transport here is a little bit tricky. I came from Guinea so it was a serious journey. If you’re coming from Freetown you need to get to Kamakwie which is about 8-10 hours away via Makeni and then take a moto-taxi here which is about another hour or so. It’s possible to get to the park from Freetown in a day. However, if you’re heading to Freetown you’ll likely need to spend a night in Kamakwie and then catch an early bus towards Freetown.